“Islam is not responsible for ISIS,” Dr. Sayed Moustafa Al-Qazwini told the the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County on July 23. “There are certain agencies and governments, they put hand in hand to establish ISIS, to demolish Islam from within. This was the plan. ISIS is the production of the Israeli intelligence. Most of their officers were trained in Israel, including Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.”
Al-Qazwini’s comments were shared by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
Following a backlash from the Jewish community, The Algemeiner reported, he released the following statement doubling down on his anti-Semitic remarks.
“To make absolutely clear his position, Imam al-Qazwini was quoting information that was relayed to him directly by Iraqi government and military sources who have been leading efforts in the fight against ISIS. As he clearly stated in his lecture, his remarks about the role of the Israeli intelligence were first made three years ago in 2014 while he was traveling to Iraq. There, he met with Iraqi officials who informed him that they had credible information that, among other Arab, Gulf, and Muslim regional governments and political actors, ISIS was being supported by Israeli intelligence. Imam al-Qazwini’s comments were not intended in any way, shape, or form to criticize the adherents of the Jewish faith. In fact, Imam al-Qazwini has continually maintained that the terrorist menace facing the world today is the direct result of extremist Wahhabi ideology as well as the product of logistical and financial support by political actors that seek to cause instability in the Middle East and other parts of the world.”
Imam Qazwani is not the only imam in California facing allegations of anti-Semitism. Imam Mahmoud Harmoush of the Islamic Congregation of Riverside and Imam Ammar Shahin of the Islamic Center of Davis both delivered sermons at the end of July which sounded very much like calling for holy war against Jews.
Editor’s Update: Qazwini later rescinded his statements saying he had relied on sources that were unreliable and apologized for them.